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Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop - Should You Do It?

The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshops is associated with the Kenyon Review, an international journal published at Kenyon College. High school students from around the world are able to join a talented and dynamic literary community to explore writing, challenge themselves, and discover new talents while meeting peers who are also passionate about writing.


3 types of workshops are offered: summer residential workshops, summer online workshops, and winter online workshops. Instructors are writers and teachers nationwide associated with the Kenyon Review and the Young Writers program. Many of them are published in the Kenyon Review and some are Kenyon College alums.


What are the Summer Residential Workshops?

The Young Writers Summer Residential Workshop is an immersive and intensive multi-genre two-week workshop on the Kenyon College campus. In generative workshops, students will have the opportunity to explore different ideas and genres while working with their instructors and peers on how to maximize their potential and develop their own voices. There are two sessions available: one from late June to early July, and another from mid to late July.


There is no application fee for summer residential workshops, but the tuition is $2,575. There is need-based financial aid available for those who are unable to afford this cost, and the amount of financial aid requested by admitted students is usually offered. Acceptance decisions are not affected by financial aid requests. The application deadline for summer residential workshops is early March.


Workshop groups consist of 12-14 students and meet for five hours a day. Workshop time is dedicated to freewriting, responding to prompts and assignments, discussing readings, and sharing work. Since the work is ungraded, this is a time for students to realize their strengths while working on their weaknesses. Instructors also have individual conferences with students.


Students also have the opportunity to sign up for a genre session outside of the regular workshop group. A genre session is a three-part workshop focusing on a specific genre or craft element and allows students to work with a different instructor and meet new peers.


What are the Online Workshops?

The Young Writers Summer Online Workshops allow writers to explore their passion for writing and develop their craft with instructors and peers.


Summer online workshops are multi-genre workshops that meet every day for three and a half hours during one week in mid June. Students will join daily synchronous workshops through Zoom and will receive solo writing time along with one-on-one instructor conferences. Participants will also have other exciting events to attend including readings by visiting writers, informal social gatherings, and craft talks.


Winter online workshops meet two hours every Saturday for six weeks from late January to late February. Outside of workshop time, students will have reading and writing assignments to complete along with optional readings and events. Winter workshops are focused on one specific genre, topic, or craft element.


Workshops groups are 12-14 students that regularly meet with an instructor. Similar to the residential workshops, this is a time for freewriting, writing assignments, discussing readings, and taking note of each other’s work.


Tuition is $995 for summer online workshops and $655 for winter, but need-based financial aid is available. Financial aid is not a factor in admissions decisions. There is no application fee, and the application deadline is mid April for summer workshops and mid December for winter.


Who is eligible?

Eligibility requirements for all types of workshops are the same. Current sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply (or if you will be between 16-18 years old at the time of the program). Occasionally, students who have just graduated high school before the start of the program will be accepted, but most participants are rising juniors and seniors. International students and previous Young Writers participants are eligible, but rising sophomores cannot apply.


How does the application process work?

In your application, you must submit a 300-word statement (essay, story, poem) about the role of writing in your life, a high-school transcript (either official or unofficial), and a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Submitting financial aid information is optional. The selection committee places great emphasis on the 300-word statement and the letter of recommendation. You are allowed to apply for both the residential and online Young Writers Workshops, but you can only attend one per summer.


Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop - should you do it?

With this many options and this much information, it may be difficult to even decide if you want to apply and attend this program in the first place. With this in mind, here is a short list of pros and cons for this program.


Pros

1. You will have access to mentorship opportunities with talented instructors The program instructors are writers and teachers from around the country, each of whom have been working with the Kenyon Review and the Young Writers program for a long time. Most have advanced degrees in creative writing and even teach high school or college courses during the academic year.

2. You will work in small groups Participants will be working in an intimate setting with a tight-knit group, which will allow them to not only work closely with one another on their writing, but to also develop new connections that may last a lifetime.


3. You will have opportunities to develop your portfolio

You will write and share your work everyday, and this is great for building momentum and getting into the ‘zone’ for producing some stellar work. There are critique workshops to help you get feedback on your work and open you up to examining someone else’s work critically. It’s also great that you can focus on a genre and attend workshops in a particular genre.

4. The program is quite selective

If you’re looking for a program that can add to your resume in terms of prestige, opting for selective programs such as this one is a pretty solid option. The program receives hundreds of applications each year, but only admits about 12-14 students that meet for a few hours each week. If accepted, this selectivity can add to the value of your experience.


Cons

1. You will shell out a significant sum of money It is true that you may have to pay a high price for tuition, especially if you are attending the summer residential program. However, do keep in mind that financial aid is available.

2. You meet fellow participants for a day or two each week

If you’re looking for a summer/winter program that allows you to meet and interact with your peers on an everyday basis, such as a residential program, you may want to consider applying for this program at some other time. The workshops run mostly on weekends, and those held during the summer are usually online. You may want to consider on-campus, fully-residential programs if you wish to network and learn in-person.


Our Review

The Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop is a great opportunity for students to learn more about writing elements and genres as well as their own writing strengths and weaknesses. They will meet new peers that are just as interested in writing and an instructor that has experience both in writing and teaching writing.


For students looking for a supportive, challenging, and exciting environment, this program is a possible option for you.


The residential program specifically gives students the opportunity to learn about college life while living in dorms, working in college classrooms, and simply eating in the dining hall or exploring the nearby area. Although the tuition can be high, there is always need-based financial aid available. The online programs are also considerable options, especially for students who may have other time commitments during the summer or are looking for winter programs.


However, it is important to note that this is not the only writing program available for high school students to participate in. This is a highly selective program, and there are other writing programs out there that may give you a similar writing experience. Even so, we believe that these workshops offer the chance for students passionate about writing to develop their talents.


If you are interested in doing university-level research in literature and writing, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 2100 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Rachel is a first year at Harvard University concentrating in neuroscience. She is passionate about health policy and educational equity, and she enjoys traveling and dancing.


Image Source: Kenyon Review





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